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Stone Pillow: New and Collected Poems: “Apertures”

I was just looking at Flickr photos that I snapped during a trip to Lanzhou in Gansu Province, China. It has been a couple of years since I took what was a life changing journey over the Yellow River and along the Silk Road. Gansu is the China I most love–sorry Guangzhou–with its dozens of ethnic groups. Despite its terrific poverty it is with rife with Confucian, Taoist and rich Buddhist temple bells and beautiful, delicate relics from Qing, Ming and Sui dynasties; and many of them can be found only a few meters from each other. And then there are the dozens of poems cradled in the giant Buddha’s arms and a countryside recites them in a different voice every spectacular season.

The pictures called to mind a poem I wrote a few years ago about how love for a person or place remains perfect, and  young even as we move through our inescapable developmental phases.

Apertures

I was just looking

through a photo album

one of those musty, three-tiered

prison blocks full of parents

slowly leaning away from each other

and children running at a standstill:

escaping more perfunctory poses.

There is one of you

just after I read you that poem

by another writer

about a woman

with your votive smile, inner nakedness

and a mid-afternoon firestorm in her hair

that he wished he had touched.

He told me once, his faced engraved

with regret, that he visits her often now,

though he didn’t attend the funeral.

When we first met

I heard

still hear your body

moving under your clothes:

the long felt silence of a temple bell.

Behind you, curtains were whispering

like nylons.

Why is it

that we capture ourselves

sometimes forever

in a flat semblance of the truth?

It is why

in pictures of me I am alone

standing outside my heart

with nothing for me to compare

until the day I’m holding you,

in a portrait with more

than a passion of intention,

and with a look as serious as a kiss.

American Professor in China,China Expat,Chinese Monks,Confucius Slept Here,Gansu,Heartsongs,Lanzhou,love,Personal Notes,Photos,Poetry,Stone Pillow,Travel in China,中国

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Transcending Dental Medication in China

A few weeks ago I was in magical Guanxi province to visit with the the unbreakable Chun Li. During my visit I had, not one, but two fillings, put in during my time in the military, decide to abandon their posts–one on either side of my mouth. I went on a sudden food fast because it was impossible to eat. With several days left before I could leave Yangshuo for Guangzhou I headed straight to the local hospital. Everyone there was friendly enough. The dentist had her grandson assisting.

China Dentist

The Dental Clinic was on the second floor and all you had to do to find it was follow the smell of the bathroom, sans doors, next to my treatment room.

Dental Tools

The franken-lab tools and mixtures did not bother me nearly as much as having to rinse and then spit into a tiny trash can. I am not nearly as accurate at expectorating as the average Chinese, so I ended the session looking as though my sleeves had been been mauled by a St. Bernard.

So, the old joke goes:

Q: Why did the guru refuse Novacaine when he went to his dentist?

A: He wanted to transcend dental medication.

Sorry…

Well, I did not get the option of Novacaine. For the 70 Yuan ( $8.40) the visit cost me I had to make due with clove oil built into the filling material.

I still have horribly minty fresh breath and everything tastes like an Easter ham.

And no, I don’t know the onlooker here:

Chinese Dentist

And yes, I am feeling much better now:

Toothless Chinese man

Photos by Ms Bolly

Asia,China Expats,China Humor,China Photos,Chinese Medicine,Confucius Slept Here,Humor,Intercultural Issues,Personal Notes,Photos,Travel in China,Yangshuo China,中国

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Things to do in China when you are dying….

Don Quixote

I am a believer in synchronicity. I am convinced that external events happen in concert with internal “business” that begs attention. And, I believe, that these seemingly random, unplanned instructional happenings occur with an intuitive precision that defies the laws of chance.

I had been struggling with the writing of this this post for weeks; and then, two nights ago I watched Elizabeth Edwards on 60 Minutes, talk about terminal illness and I knew it was time, ready or not, to type you this confession. First, I will digress a bit (imagine that)….

In high school I remember reading Carlos Castenada’s tales of enlightenment via teachings imparted by a Mexican Socerer named Don Juan. Castenda learned from his teacher, among other things, to live with death over his left shoulder and then passed on the message to us to “live life to its fullest” from one moment to the next. This thinking has helped drive me through enchanted landscapes on an amazing dialectical journey.

Anais Nin said, “People living deeply have no fear of death.” and Issac Asimov made it delightfully simple with: “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” Ms Edwards, like the Unsinkable Ms Yue, has made a similar decision: she will get on with life. The choice for any of us is the same as hers as we don’t know what will befall us. We celebrate life or accede to dying. She has made the only reasonable decision there is to make. Ms Yue has done the same: Fund raising efforts for her have failed and business associates have stolen money and merchandise that were meant to aid her, but she remains un-embittered. She has days of doubt, but seems well equipped to cast a cold eye on death. She still laughs with perfect abandon.

I have to be honest: It hasn’t always been as easy for me. Last week one of Ms Yue’s relatives, a successful web designer in Hong Kong, died of cancer. He was in his thirties. In the days before his passing the stomach cancer made him so thin that his spirit was kept earthbound only by the weight of his family’s love. This event and contact with five of my students, all in their twenties, diagnosed with various cancers, Ms Yue’s ongoing battle and I often find myself in need of emotional waders. And that is why I have not posted about my battle, until now.

My body’s immune system is too vigilant. My natural defenses have enlisted in a war against healthy tissue and I am an uninvited host of the conflict. Treatments to date have not been effective and it is likely that I will die, and much sooner than I had hoped, from autoimmune disease. It has already claimed a gall bladder, nearly killing me in the process, and is now in the late phases of damage to my liver.

Some of you who know me well are aware that I taught Mind-Body Medicine long before it was fashionable. So, yes, I have been doing those things I should be doing to bring back health and homeostasis. But, sometimes a vessel is just flawed. Jim Fixx a celebrated runner/author died in mid-life of a heart attack owing to his genetic make-up. Many people wrongly viewed his passing as a case against the benefits of jogging. The opposite was true. And I am sure that, like his, my life has, and will be, prolonged by exercise, prayer, meditation and other interventions. But, the inevitable it is just that….

Not long before his death John Steinbeck drove his camper, Rocinante (named for Don Quixote’s horse), across America with his poodle Charley as his companion and penned a wonderful journal during the trip. I have longed to for such a land voyage ever since…

So, rather than lament my fate I have decided to take on a new project: I will be traveling next year to all 22 provinces in mainland China. I will end my trip in Beijing in time for a climb up the Great Wall before the Olympics. I have a fellow writer (he looks nothing like Charley or Sancho…) who will be joining me and we look to do some pretty ambitious things (videos, photo logs, the completion of Confucius Slept Here….) during our travels.

So, there will be soon another blog that will chronicle the adventure and it will be structured it so it can raise funds, via ads, for various causes while raising global awareness about a China not often presented to you by Western media. Andrew Young said, “It’s a blessing to die for a cause, because you can so easily die for nothing.” And while I am not so grandiose that I think I am creating a noble exit for myself, I do want this time to count for something more than a grand tour of the Middle Kingdom. Like Elizabeth and John Edwards I hope to be of service in the process of fulfilling a dream.

Today I was reminded of Somerset Maugham who thought death to be a dull and dreary affair and I advise you, as Maugham did, to have little to do with it. The new blog will be about China life on life’s terms and about those who choose to live it well.

I will tell you more in weeks to come. Onemanbandwidth will still be here during the trip and I hope you will be as well. For the record: I am in China for the duration and in the interim: I am typing as fast as I can…

American Poet in China,Asia,Asian Women,Cancer Journal,cartoons,China Cartoons,China Editorials,China Expats,China Olympics,Personal Notes,The Great Wall,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,Travel in China,Videos,中国

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Study in America: Study in US Guides

From The China Dreamblogue

Head over to BOD for recommendarions on where to study in the US, UK and Australia….

Study in America: University study in US

For anyone dreaming of university study in America: The China Dreamblogue has posted pdf guides on how to study in America, in both English and in Chinese…

Study in the US part 1

This is a guide to undergraduate study and educational opportunities in the US. You can find Arabic, French, Spanish, and Russian versions of the text: Study in America: American undergraduate Study.

Study in the US part 2

This guide explains the process of applying for and preparing for graduate study in the US. It includes information about admission, types of institutions, degrees, course loads, and grading systems. It will also discuss the different academic culture in the US and the US academic environment. It also covers specialized programs of study in the US: US nursing school, American law schools, US veterinary medicine, and American dentistry. You can find versions of the text in Arabic, French, Spanish, and Russian here: Study in the US: US Graduate Degree.

Study in the US Part 3

This guide provides thorough descriptions of short-term study options in the US, such as: high school exchange programs, work and professional exchange programs, vocational and technical programs, short-term university study, and professional study. You can find versions of the text in Arabic, French, Spanish, and Russian here: Study in America: Short-term US study.

Study in the US part 4

This guide provides important details on preparing for study in the US, such as obtaining a visa, predeparture information, housing in the us, and travel to the us. You can find versions of the text in Arabic, Chinese, English, and Russian here: Study in the US: US Visas, arriving in US, and travel to the US.

Asia,Blogroll Diving,Charity in China,china books,China Business,China Business Consultant,China Cartoons,China Editorials,China Expat,Chinese Education,Chinese Internet,Chinese Medicine,Confucius Slept Here,Education in China,Expats,Greater Asia Blogs,Guangzhou,Guangzhou China,Intercultural Issues,Internet marketing China,Teaching in China,The Internet,Travel in China,中国,中文

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Rats off a sinking ship: Yum!

The weather widget on my Mac says it is 97 degrees here in Guangzhou, but “feels like 107.” Who writes their copy? I think it would be a lot more descriptive, and accurate, to say: “97, but feels like you are clothed snorkeling in a sauna.” It has rained daily and the humidity is malleable. But, somehow I think we in Guangzhou have it better than the folks in Anhui and other areas experiencing torrential rains and home-destroying floods.

Guangdong residents have found a bizarre pot of gold at the end of the intermittent rainbows: Rats! They are being brought in by the truck-load especially from central China, where 2 billion of them (did someone really count?) were displaced when a lake flooded.

Rats!

The reason for jubilation?: “Rat Banquets!!” Rat vendors (I am in the market for one of their business cards) are making huge money on the fabled eating habits of the Cantonese. I have lived here long enough to attest that it is not a myth when they claim these folks will eat anything that does not eat them first, or objects that they have to fly in or sit on

The rats, reportedly NOT the bad bug-ridden rascals from Hunan where they are part of a crop-destroying plague, go for about 75 cents US for a kilogram to the buyers and fetch about $18 USD in the restaurants. The rat-catchers near the lake can haul in 150 KG a night and make about $10.00 USD. That is pretty good money in central China.

The oddest part–if there can be any quantifying– of the CNN story is that this new wave of furry fare is plentiful, not because of the lake, but due a lack of critter-chasing snakes and owls that the Cantonese love to include in their food and medicine.

Joyful Guangzhou netizens are now posting rat recipes on their blogs.

Yum.

P.S. Speaking of Guangzhou: Here is a site with some amazing 3-D maps of “home”…

Asia,China Business,China Editorials,China Photos,Chinese Internet,Chinese Medicine,Guangzhou,Guangzhou China,In the news,Intercultural Issues,Just Plain Strange,Photos,The Internet,Travel in China,Weird China,中国,中文

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Nothing Funny Happened on the Way to Shanghai

Remember the old joke I shared with you a few months ago about the airliner flying over China with transponder and communication difficulties? Somehow the tower figured out they were trying to ask the time, and they responded with, “If you’re Singapore Air, it’s 1300 hours. If you’re United, it’s one o’clock. If you’re China Eastern, the big hand is on the twelve, and the little hand is on the one. And if you’re Dragon Air, it’s Tuesday.”chinese shanghai prostitute

There were a handful of positive things on David and my recent trip to Shanghai, and one of them was being on time for an interior China flight for the first time in two and a half years. I thought this was a harbinger of good things to come, but I was wrong.

David and I used a China travel service (I’m a very slow learner) to book a hotel in a location that would be reasonably convenient for all the places we would travel to in Shanghai. The hotel and the staff looked like the barnacled versions of rthe set from the latest Pirates of the Caribbean sequel…

Let me continue to digress. I’ve always had this impression of Shanghai as this up and coming, modern, and sleek city that would someday soon supplant Hong Kong as an economic and cultural mecca for China. Some of my favorite bloggers correspond from here. So I’m hoping that this is just a one-off, skewed view of one portion of this city. Of course, I haven’t been psychologically “right” since my trip to Thailand. I’m currently suffering from gender identification disorder (GID): I compared the women in Shanghai to the men in Thailand and damed if the women dis not measure up. Maybe it’s time for that laser surgery. (on my EYES…)

We quickly determined that there were only two English-language stations on the hotel TV, one of them being a mindless version of ESPN China with replays of snooker marathons. The other channel was Chinese HBO. My best guess is that Chinese HBO in Shanghai has a transmission lag built in for the censors. Unfortunately, it’s about a ten-year delay. If you’re into B-grade horror movies rehashed from the Scifi Channel, well-known shows from the late 70s, or formulaic teenage drivel involving monkeys gone wild, you’re in luck! If you’re a six year old, or were a six year old at the time of transmission, you’ll also be quite pleased. The most recent release we caught was Arthur, with Dudley Moore, who I’m sure would be happy to know the broadcast first started its journey to China while we was still alive.

Our next adventure was the search for that hard-to-find creature, the toothbrush. In Guangzhou, we’d pass 16 hospitals and 14 medicine stores (albeit mostly knock-off products) in the course of two blocks, but it appears that no one in Shanghai takes much for colds or considers dental hygiene a high priority. During our travels, we passed herds and packs of common urban China wildlife: beggars, the RolexDVDbagwatch man, and prostitutes, but no one hawking designer Oral Reach on the street. The nearest drug store in the direction we went was six hawkers, twelve prostitutes, and four beggars from the hotel. Since that accounted for about 7 blocks, we decided to stop at Taco Bell for a well-deserved break.

Imagine our excitement to come from Guangzhou to find a Taco Bell. Instead of finding Tacos, Bells, or the greasily satisfying goodness of its American counterpart, we found a staff of very unhappy-looking Shanghainese dressed in novelty-store sombreros and ponchos. It took me a minute to place their expression, but then I remembered: my mother’s Chihuahua looked similar after being dressed in an Afghan knitted by my mother. Some things are just not meant to be.

We never did get that toothbrush, so we decided we use toothpicks and shirtsleeves, and take a meandering route back to the hotel in hopes of discovering some cultural treasure, or at least some amusement. We passed the Shanghai Grand Theater, which visibly lives up to its name from the outside. It’s has a Maxine’s restaurant with no customers and lots of waiters in tuxedos, looking about as comfortable as the sombrero-clan in Taco Bell, and a DVD/CD emporium next to the box office filled with much better packaged, but 20 yuan bootleg versions of their 5 yuan ($0.60 USD) Guangzhou cousins.

Thinking we might take in an off Broadway show, we checked the ticket prices for Mama Mia!, which was both the current show and our reaction to cost. One seat was the price of our round-trip ticket from Guangzhou, but we assumed that these were really famous, important actors as their names were covered with umlauts.

It was roughly thirteen prostitutes, two beggars, and 11 hawkers back to the hotel, where we wondered if we should order in for dinner or venture back out into the streets. To make a long story longer, let’s fast forward to the evening meal. We did a 180 from the toothbrush escapade and headed in the direction of bright McDonald’s signs in the process discovering that at night the predators become much more aggressive: maybe it’s a night vision thing. After David got a cold milk tea literally ripped out of his hand by a very thirsty-looking man I would have strangled but for fear of contagion, we decided to be more aggressive in our stance. From that moment on, calls for massages and Singapore girls were answered with shouts: “I’m GAY!” (I am not), or “I have AIDS and I am not afraid to use it”, which does flummox these guys.

We did catch a talented street band playing in the midst of all this. But, their repertoire was mostly torch songs, which had enough pedestrians and beggars in near tears to allow us faster passage to a Hunan restaurant, where a culinary self-immolation seemed preferable to returning outside. We stayed so long they turned off the AC to turn us, the last customers, out. So it was back through the gauntlet, where one really never had to buy a massage because of all the manhandling they gave us trying to get us to buy one. We finally made it back to the shipwreck hotel, where we fell asleep watching the end of the snooker tournament.

Several good things did happen on this trip, but that is another post . All of this made me think of my last entry: so what would Buddha do if every person he met in the street was a prostitute, a beggar or fake Rolex dealer?

He’d catch the next flight out of Shanghai. And so we will…..

Just in case you were wondering, Chinglish is alive and well in Shanghai:

Chinglish in Shanghai

Would that it were so, aye?

(thanks to Witty World for the photo)

American Professor in China,Asia,Asian Humor,Asian Women,China Cartoons,China Sports,Chinese Medicine,Chinglish,Confucius Slept Here,Guangzhou,Guangzhou China,Humor,Intercultural Issues,Just Plain Strange,Shanghai,Travel in China,Weird China,中国,中文

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Blog of Dreams



The Dream:

Our dream is to travel in 2007 to every mainland province in China. During this journey, it is our intention to chronicle the everyday lives of ordinary Chinese citizens. Our motivation for the trip came from a group of women known as the League of Extraordinary Chinese Women. The LOECW was comprised of 5 women from various walks of Chinese life—wives, semi-professional women, a bookkeeper, and a student. The one thing they had in common was advanced-stage HER2 breast cancer. These women, with little access to formal education and less information from outside sources about the disease they had contracted, naturally and courageously combated their disease with friendship, enthusiasm, meditation, and what medical care they could afford.

One member of the original group has survived, and a newer, younger member has been added recently—a 22-year-old student who lost her leg to bone cancer. Both of the survivors lack the financial wherewithal to apply standard medical treatment to their illness. We devoted time and energy from our blogs and lives to raise money for members of the league. As a result of our initial efforts, we were able to extend the life of some members, and we enabled the student to purchase a prosthetic leg.

During this first effort, we began to think about other Chinese people left behind in the wake of this huge industrial growth. Around this time, we also met Thomas Stader and Laurie Mackenzie, two expats who have devoted their time, talents, and treasures to Chinese, educationally and economically left behind, by giving them access to life-changing education. Our meetings sparked Yanzhi Liu’s interest, as he was (and still is) a board member for the US-based group The Reading Tub. Because we are educators and bloggers actively involved in search engine marketing optimization and education, we sought to find a way to organize the entrepreneurial energy of the people we met and turn it into a force that would help us, and other people, realize the dreams we now hold dear.

We decided to experiment, via the Blog of Dreams, by asking students in our global internet marketing class to take a hands-on approach to global marketing by contributing to a positive world awareness of China while aiding worthy causes. Students immediately drove a brand new blog to the number 23 position (out of 75 million) in the Favorites section of Technorati, the premiere blog aggregator in the world. Students ensured that one of our blogs was nominated for and eventually won Best Asian Blog in the Annual Weblog Awards. This blog already held dozens of top ten slots in search engine slots for keywords related to China business. So, with this kind of early momentum, student commitment and huge volunteer support, we knew we could create a project that would make a difference in other people’s lives via the Internet.

The Dreamblogue is a simple concept. We will contact people through PR Web, Blogger News Network (BNN, for whom we write), Google News, Social Networks like Facebook and our volunteer network. We will also promote an Internet MEME that asks people be to share real dreams for themselves or someone else. After a specified period of time (maybe once a month or once a quarter), we’ll select a contributor who will win a prize donated by one of our charitable sponsors. We hope to give away vacations to China, scholarships for study abroad, equipment, Software and cutting edge gadgets that will appeal to our broad demographic. We want to attract a Postsecret-type (http://postsecret.blogspot.com) interest in our blog that will drive enough traffic that we can generate advertising revenue to give to educational and medical concerns. We also plan a book about China for expat and business newcomers.

The blog will use Feedburner and Blogads as its primary advertising revenue resources. The number of ads that we allow will be limited: no more than 1 ad in our feed, 1 ad in our posts, and 1 ad in our blog ads. All of the money generated from these sources will go directly from Feedburner and Blogads to the charities we support—we will never directly handle the money.

The other advertising that we will be present on the site will be for other corporations and institutions that sponsor our adventure, and those ads will be top listed display ads in the sidebar of the blog of dreams.

Any educational concerns that join us as sponsors for the trip will have direct links on our site to translated pages or individual websites that will advertise to Chinese students and more importantly, their parents. We will do all of the search engine optimization and translation and ongoing support for these.

The Blog of Dreams will have videocasts, podcasts, a China picture contest (to be turned into a coffee table book) , a weekly Chinese horoscope, weekly Chinese recipes (also to be a book), and most importantly, the daily dreams of people from around the world. In all, the Dreamblogue has been created to be a tool of understanding and a place where dreams can be spoken into reality. We also plan a book bout

Click on the stamp above and head for the Dreamblogue. The first thing you can do to help is favorite them in Technorati and then link to them if you have a blog.

ABOUT US:
Who we are:

Lonnie Hodge is a writer, educator and SEO consultant with over 20 years of experience working and living in Asia. He is a past recipient of America’s highest honor given to a poet: A National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Writing. Because of the Unsinkable Ms Yue’s constant inspiration via, her courage in battling cancer, Lonnie, along with David, were compelled to create The China Dreamblogue.
Lonnie has done SEO for corporations and bloggers large or small. His work for non-profit groups is done without charge. To date his clients hold over 30,000 keywords indexed in #1 positions on major search engines worldwide.
Lonnie has been a lecturer worldwide on topics related to Humor and Wellness, psychoneuroimmunology, Psychopharmacology, Personal Communication, Asian Culture, International Trade, Search Engine Optimization, Marketing, ESL and Personal Growth and Development for Universities, small and large businesses, The Kellogg Leadership Program, The Fetzer Institute and more…
He is a Professor with over thirty years of teaching experience at Universities worldwide including: Baylor University, The University of North Carolina, The U.S. Army Academy of Health Sciences (while he was a soldier during a few of the Vietnam years), The University of Maryland and Business/Technical Colleges in Asia.
He is currently one of China’s leading Trade Specialists and Consultants. He is one of only two peer- reviewed and accepted SEO specialists in China.
David DeGeest is a teacher, blogger, and educator in China who regularly assists in the editing and writing of OneManBandWidth. He holds a degree in mathematics and English from Grinnell College. He came to China as the recipient of a prestigious fellowship from Grinnell’s Office of Social Commitment. In the past year, he has edited a motivational memoir and an international Bonsai book. He has devoted his time to learning Chinese, language and literature, Martial Arts and SEO while promoting the Dreamblogue.

More information will follow tomorrow.

Blogroll Diving,Cancer Journal,Charity in China,China Business,China Business Consultant,China Cool Gadgets,China Editorials,China Expat,China Expats,China Photos,China web 2.0,Chinese Internet,Chinese Media,Chinglish,Confucius Slept Here,Expats,Heartsongs,Human Rights,In the news,Intercultural Issues,Internet marketing China,Personal Notes,Search Engine Marketing,SEM,SEO,Seo China,Teaching in China,The Internet,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,The Unsinkable Ms Yue,Top Blogs,Travel in China,中国,中文

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Banana W.H.O.?

banana sars

According to Reuters the newest Chinese food scare is bananas. Literally!

Somehow word got out, via text messages on cell phones, that the bananas on Hainan Island (China’s Hawaii which is to Hawaii as Chinese checkers are to checkers) contained the deadly SARS virus . Hm. All I ever received were, uh, solicitations and illegal taxi service ads: “Is that a banana in your pocket or…?”

The agriculture ministry has been called the cops to investigate. From what I saw of the police stations in Hainan, well they may take a while to get around to interviewing local monkeys/goats about their involvement:

hainan island

The rumor comes at a bad time Chinese products are under fire for poor quality and and dangerous substitutions of cheap material. Reuters says that we are on it though: U.S. health officials now “are checking all shipments of toothpaste coming from China, following reports of tainted products in the Dominican Republic and Panama.” Huh? Homeland security must be involved in this agricultural intelligence operation or Reuters needs a new editor. ( I am chiding the grammar here NOT the seious problems of late)

“The rumor about bananas from the sub-tropical island of Hainan had no scientific support as there had never been a case of humans contracting viruses from plants, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on its Web site (www.agri.gov.cn).” The Agriculture Ministry DEFINITELY needs an editor.

I am not sure what Hainan bananas did to hack people off, but they have been getting a bad rap lately. Earlier this year there were rumors abounding that they caused cancer because they had contracted something called Panama disease. Eerie coincidence, that.

Thanks once again to David Michael Porter who must get the world’s weirdest RSS feeds.

Asia,Asian Humor,China Business,China Editorials,China Humor,China Photos,Environment,Hainan Island,Humor,In the news,Just Plain Strange,Photos,Travel in China,Weird China,中国,中文

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China Photo Contest

fotolia_1684848.jpg

Have picture of the Middle Kingdom you like and want to share with the world?

OMBW will sponsor a contest that will run all year and culminate in a coffee table book that will raise funds for China charities and the Literacy Group The Reading Tub.

It is simple:

Send your best shot of people, places or events in China to: dreamblogue@gmail.com with the information required below. We will post several shots, once a week, on OMBW and on http://blogof dreams.com where you and your friends can vote for your favorites. The top 250 will make it into the book. There is NO entry fee.

There will be prizes, yet to be decided, for the winners, links back to blogs or sites if requested, contributor copies of the coffee table book. All rights are returned to the creator upon publication and you are free to multiple submit your work to other sites, magazines or contests. First prize in each division will be an expense paid week on the road with Yanzhi and Dawei and the Dreanblogue Team during their charity and friendship tour of China

Ideally there will be three divisions:

Hobby Photographer: You take pictures for personal enjoyment and you have a shot that you would like to share with the world

yangshuo

Amateur: You aspire to be professional and have a bit more experience or training than do most of us in the amateur ranks

heart on

Professional: You get paid for your work, but are willing to share it with us at OMBW and the Dreablogue so we can raise a few dollars for charity

great-wall-1.jpg

We will try to post new pictures once a week on Friday. The rules:

Make the photos as Web-friendly as possible: No more than 450 Pixels wide please. If you win we will ask for the high resolution file.

Include the following information with your email:

  • Real name
  • Division
  • Province where picture was taken
  • Name of Photo as you want it in the ALT tag
  • Your location and email (not to be published)
  • Your desired screen name for voting and picture tags
  • A short statement giving us permission to place the picture on OMBW and The China Dreamblogue during 2006-7
  • Your blog or website URL, if there is one, to which we should link the photos

There is no limit to the number of photos you can submit….
Look for the first photos next week!

Charity in China,China Expats,China Photos,China web 2.0,Chinese Internet,Chinese Media,Expats,Greater Asia Blogs,Heartsongs,Hong Kong Blogs,Intercultural Issues,New Blogs,Photo Contest,Photos,Search Engine Marketing,SEM,SEO,Seo China,Teaching in China,The Great Wall,The Internet,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,Tibet,Top Blogs,Top China Blogs List,Travel in China,Yangshuo China,中国,中文

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Wishes, Lies and Schemes of Social Commitment in China, Part I

one-drop.gif

There is a school in America that maintains an “Office of Social Commitment.” Ostensibly, the office is charged with, in part, sending bright, globally aware scholars to regions that can develop and utilize their youthful enthusiasm. Ideally this fosters the “fellows” acquisition of information about local culture and accords them skill building opportunities that can be transferred back to America or generously subsumed into future professional choices.

Here is the rub: The four fellows who come from that particular school are sent to work in two institutions: One is in Macau and the and other is in Nanjing. The former is a third-tier private, for-profit school with most students coming from well-heeled families, and the latter is an elite prep’ school. The fellows in Macau are simply handed a teaching schedule and sent off, without any preparation, to face the Great Wall of Student Silence that is built into most Chinese classrooms. Attempting to scale the Great Wall can repel veteran teachers and injure novices and journeyman alike if they are not well equipped. Chinese administrations will not help teachers to adjust as they have little time and patience for new and, well, expendible teachers. I watched two “fellows” suffer emotional melt-downs (they are somewhat fine now) because they received little or no responsible assistance to problems from their “commitment” office or their Chinese work-site. It seems that social commitment is only an external consideration and does not apply to working field staff.

Dostoevsky wrote: “As a general rule people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are too.” Sadly, that used to reflect my world view, but living in China among opportunistic and the ill-intentioned, posing as humanitarians, has altered my thinking. The head of the aforementioned social commitment office has in his website bio’ a telling metaphor: He ends his long list of organizational memberships and awards (Surely proof he is a good guy) with the announcement that he is adopting an Asian child. The child has no name, no history mentioned and upon close examination seems to be there only to add credence to the director’s bid for earthly sainthood–along with his being a “living kidney donor.”

In Nanjing the fellows are a bit better off, but are as essential to the fulfillment of ideologically meaningful goal as an i-Pod in the Gucci bag of an Orange County co-ed. This isn’t the community building your hippie dad knew in the Peace Corps of the seventies when he dug wells and irrigation ditches alongside poor farmers. The only holes that are dug in the examples mentioned are the emotional ones, like above, that once idealistic fellows will spend years extricating themselves from. The Chinese students at both of these schools, while lamenting environmental issues and social ills in the mainland, often come from families that work in government or head up companies that are part-and-parcel of troubling environmental issues and in financial charge of workers that increasingly need more attention than their designer clothed school children.

When I recommended possible educational agencies that might really benefit from the investment of a young foreign teacher, or schools where poor children may never have seen an outsider like those served by Volunteer English Teachers, I was told that it was just too much trouble to negotiate acceptable new contracts. Since when did social commitment get easy?

If you are headed here to help make sure you have the training and support you need to embark on your journey. And be sure you are not just part of your own or someone else’s need to uphold the appearance of humanitarian interests.

In the next installment I will be looking at NGOs, and Missionary Groups operating in Macau and the Mainland…

Coming:

Addicted to Mediocriy II and Dreams, Repression and Violence II….I lost many follow-ups in the server crash and am now reconstructing…

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Continuing Education Classes for Expats in China

One thing I do miss about America is the grand amount of community and continuing education available to virtually anyone and much of it for free. I was stumbling through Illustratrator’s newest release on MAC yesterday and bemoaning the fact that even a book on the subject would be hard to come by or too expensive to ship or pick up in Hong Kong.

Coincidentally, two colleges contacted me about the possibility of low-residency Masters and Doctoral programs and Continuing Education. One school is based in the UK and one is in the US. Both have good reputations and a comprehensive offering of courses. Both asked me if I thought they could be successful in China with the expat community. I answered honestly that I hadn’t a clue, but that I would ask you.

Let me know your thoughts and please feel free to add a response or two to the poll.

{democracy:2}

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The Wild, Wild East: Women’s Town

Womens Town

In the “What the hell are we gonna do after the Olympics?” department comes a true story from Reuters about a real government year of the pork barrel stunt: Chinese tourism authorities are spending money and looking for more investors so they can build the the world’s first “women’s town.”

This is kind of an Asian remake of Amazon Women on the Moon: Men would get punished for disobedience ( I am guessing that leather is optional here) in Longshuihu village in the Shuangqiao district of Chongqing. The “rule” of law in the municipality, also known as “women’s town”, is the alleged inverse of the Chinese norm and new-age frontier justice: “women rule and men obey.”

The tourism bureau plans to invest between 200 million yuan (20 million bucks) and 300 million yuan in infrastructure (stocks, muzzles….) roads and buildings. And they are looking for foreign investment. I see the stockholder cert’s now: Mistress Belladonna, Madame Lash, Mistress Scary….

According to Reuters:

“When tour groups enter the town, female tourists would play the dominant role when shopping or choosing a place to stay, and a disobedient man would be punished by ‘kneeling on an uneven board’ or washing dishes in restaurant, media reports said.

The project, begun in the end of 2005, was expected to take three to five years to finish.”

It would be done in two, but the men headed there as construction workers have refused to ask the women for directions.

Thanks again Dave….

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Dying to win in Macau….

macau gambling

Simon Montlake wrote recently in the Christian Science Monitor about Macau’s “exhilarating” growth of late. Imagine yourself in a town where the GDP rose 17 percent last year and the law mandated that the highest paying of the thousands of new jobs must go to you, a local resident. Desperate casinos are hiring college students before graduation and they are easy to spot as they doze off even in the midst of exams.

One the face of it Macau, with salaries 3-6 times higher on average than the mainland, has re-nationalized and re-located the American Dream Eastward. And land values have increased some 30% this year and restaurants and service sector shops are packed most days.

But, there is life in the darkness beneath the fresh sod of success: Thousands of illegal aliens, mostly Filipino domestic helpers, Chinese mainland construction workers and Russian showgirls and prostitutes, work for under- the-table pay while living in overcrowded apartments. For every undocumented worker deported there are dozens, from the over 200 million migrant workers creating China’s new skyline, waiting to take their place. And there is no shortage of employers desperate to fill critical shortages or other local needs who are willing to bend the rules for a profit.

Last week a man from Wuhan in Hubei province, reportedly despondent over gambling losses, jumped to his death from a terrace inside the Sands Casino. He landed amid players queueing up for a free million HK dollar pull on a house slot machine. The Sands, who made profits staggering enough to pay off all their debts in only a few months, is building a new 3,000-room Venetian Macau at a cost of $2.3 billion and will likely retire that debt in record time. Mainlanders lose the money that comprises more than 60% of the revenue that has already outstripped the take of Las Vegas. Changes in anti-gambling Beijing’s hands off policy could affect the country’s bottom line and leave a populous, vocationally training to need gaming demands, without a fall-back plan. (Like my Irish mom, who likely spoke Yiddish in a previous life, “You need something to fall back on,” but….

It is not the first time someone has taken their own life after yielding to gambling urges and the mainland authorities, this time, have taken some token measures to curb addiction: Visas issuance, according to an official source in Guangzhou, have been limited in number due to the recent suicide. While I am sure this will do little to stem the tide of players it may be a warning shot fired at the captains of greed steering Macau into waters dependent on the very people Macau scorns with governmental controls. It may well cut down on monetary traffic for the upcoming Golden Week holiday.

The increase in real estate prices has taken place despite a huge surplus of available rental space. Thousand of high-end dwellings are gather dust on their price tags as the asking price is far too steep even for most newly affluent Macanese. Affordable housing for newcomers and is hard to come by and the 9-10 Macanese and Hong Kong families that control the bulk of Macau’s property holdings. The rampant land speculation is making decent housing unaffordable.

In an effort to slow real estate speculation the Macau government abruptly stopped its program that allowed outsiders to invest in homes and then qualify for citizenship. Of course, only non-Chinese qualified anyway unless mainlanders bought a passport from an African, Carribean or South American country selling citizenship. Now, many mainlanders are out the cost of an apartment and a fresh nationality. And real estate developers selling space in dozens of new luxury high-rises are owed millions in unpaid commissions now that the lure is gone. What is most troubling is: the new policy does not look like it will lower prices as the moguls have plenty of cash to park in land holdings while betting on the come of outside cash.

Macau has already surpassed Hong Kong as the top tourist destination in the area, but a quick search for the number of people checking on line for lodging in the area shows Macau getting 2/3 less look-ups. Macau is a Gambling Disneyland and good for a day trip, but not a vacation destination.

The homey, cheap places to eat are giving way to gourmet fare at tourist prices as local restaurateurs cannot afford the rent or compete for service workers with the casinos. The Sands starts their toilet attendants at a salary twice that of a mainland college teacher. Area entertainment magazines, paid for by casino ads, laud the explosion of new chefs and high-dollar meals, but the young, and the low-budget, daytripping retired folks think otherwise.

Right now, Macau is a safe bet for locals. But, as always, for someone to win at the tables, someone else must lose.

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Banned in Beijing: Stupid Meat and Stupid Judges….

My opera singing, voice-over specializing buddy in the states (who has a set of pipes you can hear through email) sent me an article on the boring-down of the next Supergirls style competition in China.

Chinglsh

Crying, “unhealthy songs,” non-mainstream dress, potty words, Simonesque judges who humiliate contestants and “wild hair” are a few of the things to get banned. Tears, wild hair, “low taste,” and unhealthy songs are forbidden when China’s latest version of “American Idol” goes on the air next month.

In the words of my friend: “So, where’s the fun in that?”

In related news: Beijing, actively fretting over their image, announced that its goal to wipe out Chinglish in time for the Olympics might have been a bit wistful. And nothing demonstrates that better than the name of the coming show: It will be called, “Happy Boys Voice.”

This name was infinietly preferable to the earlier and obviously much too Chinglish name, “Boys Happy Voice.” And during this sequel to ‘Super Girls Voice,” the show that drew 400 million viewers, regulators want only “healthy and ethically inspiring” songs and say the contestants should “avoid scenes of screaming fans or losing contestants in tears.” There will no overnight fame for enraptured fans here.

American Idol Crying Girl

So, back to Beijing:

“You can’t talk in absolutes,” says Liu Yang, deputy head of the Chinglish police. “We’ll work as hard as possible to extinguish the problem and get more city residents involved,” he added. “Of course, it will still happen occasionally, but I think we can ensure that once mistakes are found, they are rectified.”

And they did a good job rectifying this one: Beijing’s “Hospital for Anus and Intestine Disease”, once lit up in garish neon lights in the central business district, is now the “Hospital for Proctology”.

Again, where’s the fun in that?

How boring is restaruant food going to be of you can no longer order “Stupid Meat,” Young Chicken Without Sex,“It is small to fry the chicken miscellaneous,” “Mixed elbow with garlic mud”, huh?

The number two Chinglish Dick is still unsure as to what country wil be used as a standard for the upcoming changes: “Every country is different when it comes to English signs, like the US and Britain having varying standards,” he said.

I am not sure America will hold the linguistic high ground here: “It’s hard to say that a certain country is the only one worth relying on or considering” says word cop Liu in his best Happy Boys Voice.

…..Thanks Cypipes

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Confucius slept here…

Confucius Slept here

I happily recovered another older post and will revive an idea I started to develop about a a year ago:

This is the re-start of an ongoing, intermittent series about the daunting task of adapting to China and the Chinese ways of culture and business. The working title: Confucius Slept Here: Meditations on China for Western Newcomers is a series that will look at individual and business norms, mindsets, cross-cultural paradigms, language, and customs in the context of my circuitous path to acceptance in the Middle Kingdom. This will be old hat for many of you. and no doubt it will like the SEO series I have started: Some of you have travelled far beyond the material presented. For you, I hope to solicit feedback on how to better present the material that could one day, with much work, become a primer for visitors to China. It is for the neophite or would-be expat.

Long ago one of my Tae Kwon Do instructors was infamous for teaching three to four hour long classes to to black belted students. I was one of the charges that found myself doing “simple” front punching or blocking for an entire period of training. My master felt that without constant re-examination and practice of the basics that had been essential to development we could not be good teachers nor could we be good citizens in a global community of TKD practitioners at various levels of the art. We had a responsibility to keep revisiting what had brought us to the sport and we were mandated to pass on what we could to those following behind us.

It is no different for me in SEO or in life adjustment is Asia. If you can learn one thing from my stumbling or my limited success then I am happy. I am, after all, a teacher by job, vocation and calling.

I am no expert on China, but now having lived 17 years in Asia, I realize how different China is even other Asian cultures. My time as an expat has given me some sense of what is needed to survive personally and professionally.

As I said the musings will be random though I hope to pull them together at some point as a real book with a more linear structure. Note: This will concern life in the mainland and not Hong Kong and Taiwan though will include unavoidable/salient issues relating to both.

First Things First:

THINGS TO BRING TO CHINA

These are things that you may want to consider bringing and items that you do not want to carry along regardless of what your mother, or neighbor stuck in the cold war, says:

1. A camera. But, unless you are the next Ansel Adams or have a need for a fancy rig, leave the big bucks at home. Bring a digital or film camera (there are tons of places that will put your pic’s on disk for little of nothing) that will take decent pictures. Use one that you are not afraid to lose or have lifted at a train station.
2. Bring an extra battery for any of your cameras. And pop for a a 220V charger while you are here. Anything you have that is 110V is liable to fry like an egg.
3. Medical Travel and Baggage Loss Insurance. Pay the few extra bucks! I have lost my luggage three times enroute to China (the U.S. carrier lost them all) and, even with insurance, only recovered about half of my losses. Medical insurance will ensure your evacuation to the U.S. shoud it be needed.
4. No-Doz if you are a coffee addict. Coffee is incredibly expensive and often not available in restaurants. Except fot the Thai restaurants the stuff you buy in the Jiffy Marts here is not very strong. You WILL get a case of Mao’s Revenge and it will be because of withdrawal, not the water.
5. I guess that #4 means bring some anti-diarrheal medicine as well….
6. Deodorant.
7. Dental Floss. Toothpicks are available at every restaurant.
8. Aspirin, if you prefer it to Tylenol, as it is hard to come by in other than miniscule doses.
9. Yuan/RMB. Two reasons: The dollar is free-falling against the Yuan and you will wait until retirement age in line to change money at most banks.
10. English Novels, Magazines or anything you want to read to pass the time. Hong Kong is about the only place with anything. Most stuff in China that looks English will really be Chinglish or government approved news and commentary–get over it: we have spin too.
11. The phone numbers for the English speaking/Western Medicine Doctors residing in the towns you will visit. You do not have time to be hand-signaling a Chinese physician no matter how good he is. The U.S. Consulate in those areas can provide these numbers. There are plenty of them but, they charge Western rates so:
12. Bring your credit card. China is 85% a cash economy but, the physicians do take plastic.
13. The numbers for your Embassy or Consulate. If you strangle a street vendor and get arrested the U.S. State Department can pretty much only come visit you (they are worse than useless) but, you will at least get a visitor. Keep the number in case you need a document notarized or need your friends interrogated by Homeland Security, prior to a visa, if you invite them to come visit you in the U.S..
14. It is better to bring the contact email and phone numbers of your government representives. Your Embassy may act more on your behalf if you call home first. Diplomats hate extra paperwork.
15. A couple of pens. The pens here are not the ones they export.
16. A muzzle on your need to spread the word for any religious or political views. It is against the law. And you SHOULD be spending your time learning about the culture you want them to replace before you preach about yours. The climate is changing but, don’t push the river.

Forget About:

1. Toilet paper. They use it here too. BUT, do buy packs of tissue at a local store or you may be, uh, cleansing yourself with currency: most of the toilets in public areas do not have T.P..
2. Antibiotics. They sell them at local pharmacies and besides: unless you are a physician you shouldn’t be self medicating! If you do have medications that you take regularly bring plenty and bring it in the prescription or OTC container or you will need the phone number for #13 above.
3. Stationery. They are literate. And they make 90% of the cutsie stuff they sell at Walmart.
4. Mailing envelopes. And don’t do anything dumb like send valuables. The postal guys in your country will steal it because it is easy to blame on the Chinese.
5. Clothes that need Ironing or lots of clothes. They do not have dryers and you can buy anything you need here at a fraction of the cost in your homeland.
6. Any pre-concieved notions about this country. It will shock, bewilder, and wonderfully amaze you daily.

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El Encierro is for wimps: Try a Chinese buffet!

The running of the bulls has nothing on the serving line at a Chinese buffet. China is new to properity and the wonders of all-you-can-eat Vegas style grazing. I am sure that, as modernity grows, so will the social graces that accompany it in other parts of the world. But for now, “buffet” remains a contact sport on a par with the Hong Kong Sevens Rugby Tournament.

Here is a video that is virally making its way into the emails of Hong Kong and Macau natives. They don’t seem to think well of their neighbors to the north and this kind of video is all too common.

I was taken to a new buffet recently that made the above video look tame. Some sadist designed the serving line: The restaurant is only open for two hours, and it has only a single serving line placed in a narrow hall only about three feet wide with customers moving in both directions. It was a snooze and you lose situation: One blink and that whole tray of beef you had your eye on begins levitating toward a hungry family.

It was easily the best food I had had in ages, but I felt like I had won a challenge on Survivor Island to get it.

*****

A non-China aside: I am a huge golf fan who wishes my play could one day match my enthusiasm. So, of course, I have been reading Yahoo! sports news religiously this Easter to follow Tiger and company at the Masters.

I am also a great fan of good sports and travel writing: Bryson, Albom, Mayle….

Well, Dan Wetzel is getting close with hilarious stories like this one about the Masters. A fun piece on Augusta: Masters of None

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Sick Day

Sick in China

I will be in bed for the next 48 hours…Out of the reach of a keyboard….

In the interim here is some pic’s of one of our “Fellows” this term…let’s call it, “You know you have been a China expat too long when…”:

You can actually look contemplative wearing a garland…

David DeGeest in wonderland

When you break into a Travolta song from Saturday Night Fever because you actually bought it for 100 yuan less than the storekeeper wanted…

DeGeest as John Travolta

YOU actually believed that you kept drinking Guinness ‘casue you claimed you would look really, really, realy good in the “free hat after six pints”….Really!

David O'Leary DeGeest\

Back with SEO info’ soonish…If the Leprechaun above doesn’t murder me first….

OMBW

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The Handsomest Indonesian Boy in Guangzhou

Guest post by DD

On Saturday night I met the handsomest Indonesian boy in Guangzhou at the Mansion in Guangzhou, though in this picture he is happily cruising around Macau. I guess he knows how to light up all of south China.  He works at a small, high-quality bar in downtown Guangzhou as the event manager.

handsomest indonesian boy in guangzhou

Ladies and gentlemen, leave a note if you find this. And everone mention how handsome he is!

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Zaijian

chinglish

Books have been virtually replaced by blogs. But, puns aside, many of them showcase the transformative elements Pablo Neruda* suggests as essential to written art in Ars Magnetica:
“From so much loving and journeying, books emerge.

And if they don’t contain kisses or landscapes,
if they don’t contain a woman in every drop,
hunger, desire, anger, roads,
there are no use as a shield or as a bell:
they have no eyes and won’t be able to open them….”

Here I have I have tried to smooth the stubble of memory, share poetry, attempt humor, journal my social conscience, and reconcile my longings while shoutng to you in some far-off room. I leave here absolutely bewildered that anyone, other than my long-suffering friends, ever returned to listen. I am grateful you did.
Continue Reading »

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